The California real estate market continued to perform at the extremes in January — the rate of sales for resale single-family homes soared 100.8 percent while the median price sank 40.5 percent compared to the same month last year, according to the California Association of Realtors.

A separate set of data released by the state Realtor group and a data company — which includes median price info for more than 300 cities, counties and city areas throughout the state for all housing types — found that the median price dropped in all but one area in the state from January 2008 to January 2009 and dropped more than 50 percent in 26 cities and city areas. The price remained flat in Los Angeles County’s Woodland Hills.

The California Association of Realtors also reported today that the seasonally adjusted annualized rate of sales for single-family detached resale homes in the state, at 629,940, moved up 14 percent compared to December 2008 while the median single-family price dropped 9.5 percent in one month (to $254,350).

James Liptak, CAR president, noted that the annualized sales rate — a projection of monthly sales over a 12-month period, adjusted to account for typical seasonal fluctuations in sales activity — reached its highest level since October 2005.

"A lot of attention has rightfully been directed toward the high number of distressed properties," said Leslie Appleton-Young, vice president and chief economist for the statewide Realtor group.

She said that the credit pinch on jumbo loans in the state has also impacted the real estate market.

"Since the start of the credit crisis in 2007, jumbo lending has been severely constrained to the point where markets that rely on jumbo loans experienced a 24 percent year-to-year decline in sales in the month of January," she stated, in contrast to the state’s nearly 101 percent overall gain in the sales rate.

The sales rate for condos dropped 18.3 percent from December 2008 to January 2009 but rose 58.2 percent year-over-year in January, and the median price of resale condos in California slipped 7.2 percent from December 2008 to January 2009 and fell 41 percent year-over-year in January, CAR reported.

CAR reported that the sharpest sales-rate increase for resale single-family homes was in the High Desert region of the state, up 234.6 percent year-over-year in January, followed by the Monterey County region (213.5 percent) and the Riverside/San Bernardino region (149.4 percent).

On the other side of the spectrum, the sales rate remained level in the Santa Barbara South Coast region, rose 10 percent in the Northern California region and was up 20.3 percent in the Santa Cruz County region in January compared to the same month last year.

The median price between January 2008 and January 2009 dropped most in the Monterey region (-54.6 percent), followed by the Monterey County region (-54.5 percent) and the Palm Springs-Lower Desert region (-52.1 percent), while falling least in the Northern California region (-17.3 percent), the North Santa Barbara County region (-22.7 percent) and the Santa Barbara South Coast region (-24.7 percent)

Other statistics released by CAR and research company DataQuick Information Systems, which covers median home-price changes for all new and resale homes and condos in 331 cities and communities in the state from January 2008 to January 2009, found that prices dropped the most in San Juan Capistrano (-69.6 percent) from January 2008 to January 2009.

Richmond (-67 percent) was next on the list, followed by San Bernardino (-64.2 percent), Adelanto (-61.8 percent), Oakland (-59.7 percent), California City (-58.7 percent), Joshua Tree (-56.7 percent), Bloomington (-55.5 percent), Palmdale (-55 percent), and San Pablo (-54.5 percent).

At the other end of the spectrum, the median price remained flat in Woodland Hills and declined the least in Irvine (-0.2 percent), San Pedro (-1 percent), Claremont (-1.9 percent), Stevenson Ranch (-2.1 percent), Huntington Beach (-2.6 percent), Tujunga (-2.7 percent), Dixon (-3.9 percent), Grass Valley (-4.1 percent), and West Sacramento (-4.8 percent), CAR and DataQuick reported.

A CAR index that tracks the inventory of for-sale homes was 6.7 months in January, down from 16.6 months in January 2008. A supply of six months is considered to indicate a rough equilibrium between a buyer’s market and seller’s market, with supplies greater than six months leaning toward a buyer’s market. It took a median 49.9 days to sell a single-family home in California in January 2009, compared with 70.8 days in January 2008, CAR also reported.

La Jolla, in San Diego County, had the highest median home price ($941,000) in January among cities and city areas tracked, followed by Santa Barbara ($939,250), and Beach Cities in Southwest Los Angeles ($744,000). Kern County’s California City had the lowest median price in January ($66,500), followed by Desert Hot Springs ($89,500), and Adelanto ($93,750).


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